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10 Cold Dishes to Beat The Summer Heat in Southeast Asia

When it comes to a scorching summer in Southeast Asia, people often tend to head for tropical islands with palm-fringed beaches as a way to dissipate the sultry weather. But you know what, there are a lot of interesting things for you to enjoy the summer even on the hottest days. As food heaven for foodies, Southeast Asia brings you numerous options to satisfy your craving, and quench your thirst right away. Here are the top 10 must-try exotic dishes to reduce heat Southeast Asia this summer!

Che Hue - Vietnam

Che Hue or Hue royal sweet soup is a local favorite all over the country. Thanks to various ingredients, it comes in many different colors, textures, and tastes such as black bean, mung bean, red kidney bean, taro, young green rice, lotus seed. Locals often add toppings like shredded fresh coconut, coconut milk, grass jelly, or tapioca pearls to leverage flavors. It is served as a midday snack, especially in the scorching summer. Put Che Hue on your top list or you will miss a big part of Vietnamese cuisine!

Pla Haeng Taeng - Thailand

You might find it weird at first as there is no connection between watermelon and dried fish! However, watermelon with sweet dried fish and crispy shallot dip, or Tang-Mo, is really famous in Thailand and top food to eat in the sweltering months to cool down the unbearable temperature. The key element that bridge the fish and the fruit is the crispy, caramelized shallot. Once you take a bite, you will realize that they are insanely inseparable.

Coconut Ice Cream


Photo by Twentyfour Students on Flickr

On the days that it is hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, you will probably have no appetite. Water, fruit shakes, or iced tea can easily come to your mind, but why don’t you try the fresh and cold coconut ice cream to deal with hot and humid weather? Originated in Thailand, this alluring dessert can be found in many countries in Southeast Asia. The dish is freshly made from ice cream mixed with chunky and crunchy coconut with some toppings like milk, peanuts, and soft sticky rice on the side.

Summer Rolls - Vietnam

Photo by Ducson Nguyen on Flickr

If you sample local cuisine in different countries, you will realize that Vietnamese food is one of the most flavorsome and distinctive ones on this planet. All of the dishes attractively present a harmonious balance of spiciness, aromatics, sweetness, sourness, and different sauces. And in summer, nothing could beat a fresh Vietnamese summer roll with sesame-lime dipping sauce. The classical combination contains rice noodles, carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, shrimps, herbs, and vegetables to create a healthy snack.

Green Papaya Salad - Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia

Bangkok Street Food

You have heard and tried orange papayas, but green ones are something different. Simply, they are immature papayas that have not begun to ripen yet. At this stage, these papayas have white flesh with a neutral, but a bit sour flavor, and crunchy carrot-like texture making it perfect in salads across Southeast Asia. Although the dish can be found in Vietnam, and even Cambodia, the Thai version is still distinctively special. A fascinating mix of crushed garlic, chilies, peanuts, long beans, dried shrimp, tomatoes, shredded papaya, and dressings result in a sweet, sour, spicy and savory medley of tastes. You will find fun to eat its crunchy, chewy, and crisp texture, especially on a scorching summer day.

Nom Krok - Cambodia

Nom Krok, also known as coconut custard pancake is very popular street food in Cambodia. The outside crispy while the inside is light, sweet, and a bit salty that will bring you blissful mouthfuls. This dish is made of steamed puree rice, rice flour, coconut cream, shredded fresh coconut, sugar, salt, scallions, and topped with minced shrimp.

Fruit Shake - Laos

Lao fruit shake or smoothies are the perfect treats for a hot Southeast Asian afternoon. You can ask for special mixes of exotic fruits, and then everything goes into a blender with a few scoops of ice cubes, sugar syrup, and condensed milk. This energy booster is found at any restaurants or roadside food stalls in Laos.

Find out more about fairy-tale Laos.

Buko Pandan - Philippines

Photo by dbgg1979 on Flickr

However, as a thirst quencher, what will you eat or drink? Well, one of the summer favorites in the Philippines is Buko Pandan – a simple and sweet treat but keeps you stay cool in this summer season. With a glass of ice, corn kernel, green jelly, and sweetened milk, your tasty chiller is ready. To immerse yourself in cold and flavor explosion, you should ask the seller to add a scoop of ice cream, Rice Krispies, or corn flakes.

Tau Huay - Singapore

Photo by Alpha on Flickr

Tau Huay is actually a Chinese dessert made with sweetened bean curd tofu in sugar syrup. The traditional dish is very soft, a bit grainy, and can be eaten hot and cold. Sometimes, the maker adds rice balls (Tang Yuan), grass jelly, and soya milk. Different from the classic dish, the Singaporean version tends to be smoother, more gelatinous and eaten cold only. Also, it can bring you a lot of fruity flavors such as melon, mango, and so on.

Ice Kachang - Malaysia

Photo by Marcro Verch on Flickr

Nothing could be more pleasant in the hot summer than enjoying a mountain of shaved ice in Malaysia. When you are this lion city, remember to order Ice Kachang if you need to dissipate the heat immediately. Apart from the ice at the center, the bowl is filled with assorted ingredients, for example, red beans, palm seeds, agar jelly, and others before the maker drizzling condensed milk on top. Rose and Sarsi syrup will be added later to create a multi-colored effect.              


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